Mornar grabs first-ever Top 16 win
In a thriller that had everything you expect from the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16, Mornar Bar sent a message that echoed all around the competition by downing Herbalife Gran Canaria 100-102 on the road in Group H on Wednesday. Mornar registered a win in its first-ever Top 16 game, also handing Gran Canaria its first home loss this season. Isaiah Whitehead paced the winners with 28 points in an outstanding performance. Jacob Pullen and Kenny Gabriel each added 14, Marko Jeremic had 13 while Taylor Smith tallied 11 points and 11 rebounds for Mornar. AJ Slaughter led Gran Canaria with 23 points and 10 assists off the bench. Sean Kilpatrick added 16 points, Andrew Albicy had 15, John Shurna 13 and Aleksandar Balcerowski 12 for Gran Canaria, which trailed 90-100 with less than 2 minutes left. Albicy and Shurna each scored 5 points in a 10-0 run that tied it at 100-100. Mornar found its go-to guy as Pullen drew a foul and made free throws to win it down the stretch.
Gabriel got Mornar going with a three-pointer, but Albicy and Stan Okoye quickly gave Gran Canaria its first lead, 6-5. Smith and Derek Needham stepped up for the guests, but Earl Clark and Albicy kept their team within 13-15. Needham answered from beyond the arc and Smith added a layup-plus-foul in an 0-8 run that made it a double-digit game, 13-23. Slaughter and Shurna joined the three-point shootout and Balcerowski dunked to bring Gran Canaria within 21-24. Whitehead buried a triple and Slaughter answered with a jumper for a 23-27 score after 10 minutes. Jeremic nailed a catch-and-shoot three-pointer early in the second quarter, but Balcerowski and Kilpatrick brought the hosts closer, 28-30. Shurna hit a jumper and Kilpatrick scored again, prompting Mornar to call timeout at 32-32. Balcerowski and Kilpatrick kept pushing Gran Canaria, but Whitehead kept the visitors within 39-37. Gabriel stopped the show with a two-handed slam. Albicy and Whitehead traded triples and Pullen put the guests ahead, 43-47, at halftime.
Nemanja Vranjes, Pullen and Gabriel each struck from downtown after the break to boost Mornar's lead to 50-57. Earl Clark joined the three-point shootout and Slaughter added a jumper in a 9-0 run that Oliver Stevic capped with a layup-plus-foul for a 59-57 Gran Canaria edge. Slaughter insisted from downtown, but Whitehad, Smith and Jeremic fueled a 0-7 run that restored a 62-65 Mornar lead. Stevic scored down low, but Uros Lukovic and an outstanding Whitehead boosted the guests' lead to 67-72 after 30 minutes. Kilpatrick took over with 5 quick points early in the fourth quarter, but Jeremic and Whitehead gave Mornar a 72-77 edge. Okoye and Slaughter tried to change things for Gran Canaria, but no-one could stop Whitehead at the other end and he gave his team a 79-87 advantage with less than 6 minutes left. Balcerowski dunked, but Whitehead found Jeremic for a triple. Slaughter answered from downtown and fed Shurna for a layup. Lukovic and Gabriel made it 86-95 with 3 minutes left. A three-pointer by Gabriel seemed to seal the outcome at 90-100 in the penultimate minute. Albicy hit a jumper, however, and Shurna followed a three-point play with a layup for a 97-100 score with 25.4 seconds left. Pullen missed a driving layup and Albicy struck from downtown to tie the game, 100-100, with 9.0 seconds to go. Pullen drew a foul with 4.4 seconds and made both attempts for a 100-102 score. Gran Canaria called timeout but didn't get a shot up on time.
Isaiah Whitehead was unstoppable in the second half, scoring 18 of his 28 points in the final 13 minutes. He made 6 of 11 two-point shots, 4 of 4 three-pointers and 4 of 4 free throws. Whitehead added 3 rebounds, 5 assists, a block and 4 fouls drawn for a PIR of 30.
Mornar led 90-100, but several bad decisions - quick shots, early turnovers - allowed Gran Canaria to go on a 10-0 run and tie the game at 100-100. The guests called timeout with 9 seconds left and put the ball in Jacob Pullen's hands. A.J. Slaughter blocked his first shot, but Pullen got the ball back, drew a foul and hit the game-winning free throws.
Three-point shots were the X-factor for Mornar in this game. Mornar buried 16 of 30 shots from downtown (53.3%) with five different players hitting at least two apiece. Gran Canaria only downed 11 of 29 three-point shots (37.9%).
Did you know?
Mornar reached the 100-point mark for the first time in the EuroCup. Its previous best in the competition was 95 points against Germani Brescia earlier this season. It was Mornar's first win in Spain, too. It had previously registered four losses in as many games in Spain in European competitions, two of them against Unicaja Malaga in the EuroCup.
Both teams return to action next week - on Wednesday, January 20. Gran Canaria visits UNICS Kazan. Mornar Bar hosts MoraBanc Andorra.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021